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9/1/17Neighborhood of Good®: Lesson Plans!

This post was sponsored by State Farm®

Summer is coming to a quick close (I can’t believe it either!!) and so is our summer program that we are teaching for The RightWay Foundation— a foundation that helps foster youth and former foster youth with job training and placement. (If you missed our introductory post about this program, you can read about it here.)

I’m very excited about today’s post because I’ll be outlining our whole course with you and sharing our lesson plans, should you feel inspired to replicate the course or use any of the ideas to help inspire/teach/train folks in your community. For this course we focused both studio art and business/marketing for artists. The age range of the students was 17-28.

For this program, we’ve been meeting one time per week. There are a total of four sessions and each course is about 2.5 hours long. Our course will culminate with an art show where we will display and sell the work we’ve created together. Proceeds from the show will go back to The RightWay Foundation (Save the date Wednesday the 13th if you want to come!)

Class 1.0

Teacher and Student Introductions (30 minutes)
Share a bit about yourself and ask students about their own ‘creative history’ 

Branding Lecture & Discussion (30 minutes)
Review of brands that are recognizable: List a few brands that are easily recognizable in your community and ask students to identify what colors, symbols or tag-lines are associated with those brands. Discuss, how as artists, we need to think about these aspects as well. Ask students to think about/write down answers to the following questions:

  • What artists do you feel have a recognizable brand? Share some adjectives of what that brand looks/feels like.
  • What separates or distinguishes your style/feel from the masses?
  • How do you want people to feel when they encounter your brand or your art?
  • How can you work to illicit that feeling through things like colors, symbols and tag-lines for your own brand or business?
  • Do you think about the ‘voice’ you use on your social media channels? Who is talking? What is the ‘style’ of your brand?
  • How can you weave yourself and your personality into your branding? Remind students that the more authentic the message, the more it will resonate with others.

Discuss student answers to the questions.

Objective: Get students thinking about how they can be deliberate about the look/feel and messaging as artists. 

15 minute break 


Studio Session (1 hour)

Materials: Pens (Sharpie® markers work well), paper, and a stop watch (or stop watch app)

30–Second Sketches

Give students 30 seconds to sketch the following things without taking their pens off of the paper (or invent your own subjects):

  • face
  • mountain with a forest and a moon
  • person sitting near you
  • last thing you ate
  • still life (we did a plant in a pot on a podium)
  • self-portrait
  • boat at the beach and a sun

Objective: This creative warm up is meant to get students thinking on their toes and get them into the process of making art without being too results-oriented. 

Now give students 60 seconds to do a self-portrait. Ask how that process felt different from the 30-second one?

Next, ask students to do another 30 second self-portrait. Stop them after 30 seconds and then let them work on the same one for another 30 seconds. Continue for 2 minutes.

Ask them to compare the three self-portraits side-by-side and discuss what it felt like to have 30 seconds, 60 seconds, or 2 minutes (without knowing that 2 full minutes would be given). Which portrait is their favorite? Why?

Next, ask students to do another 30-second self-portrait, but this time they can’t lift their pens from the paper.

Have each student select their favorite pieces of the day. Hold each one up to the rest of the class and have the class throw out adjectives that describe the work. Have the artist of the piece write down these adjectives.

Objective: Help students to begin to think about how others see their work and begin to identify their personal style


Class 2.0

Discussion/lecture: Think about your client  (30 minutes)

Getting to know your target demographic: Inventing an ideal client can help you to build a brand for that client that eventually can help lead that person to you.  Think about your ideal client and answer the following questions:

What did she study in school?
What does she read?
What does she listen to?
How much does she make annually?
Where does she do her grocery shopping?
What does she do for fun?
Where does she like to travel?
What are her favorite magazines
What’s her favorite movie?
Where does she live? City? Country? Suburbs?
What type of work does she do?
How dies she exercise?
What are her favorite colors?
What’s her favorite food
What’s her ‘uniform’?

Discuss the answers and what insights this information might give to you about that client.


15 minute break 


Studio Session (1hr. 30min)

Materials: Pens (Sharpie® markers work well), paper, a stop watch (or stop watch app), water colors, water, and brushes

30-Second Sketches (with eyes closed!)


Today’s creative warm-up is more 30-second sketches, but this time the students must draw with their eyes closed.

Share the drawings and discuss with the class what it felt like to do these drawings with that constraint.

Pair up in the class. Paint 30-second portraits of a classmate without looking at the paper (only look at classmate’s face).

Do an exercise with the whole class where you guess whose  portrait was painted.

Watercolor exercises. Have each student paint two rainbows. One should be with bright, saturated colors. The other should be watery and faded.

Pick one of the drawings (from this week or last week) to paint using watercolors

Give the students 30 minutes to paint one of their drawings with watercolors.

Have students take turns being the ‘model.’ Take turns posing and do 30-second sketches of peoples full bodies in different poses.

Objective: Familiarize students with watercolors, and get students to focus on observing subjects and intuitively.


Class 3.0

Discussion/lecture: Introduction to Face the Foliage project  (15 minutes)

Face the Foliage is an art movement that I began a few years back creating portraits out of leaves and flowers. I was able to proliferate my message by inviting others to participate through the #FaceTheFoliage Instagram hashtag. A great way to get your work ‘out there’ is to join existing Instagram communities or start your own!

15 minutes to Walk and Forage

We gave the students 15 minutes to go outside and forage leaves and flowers to make portraits.

Studio Session (2 hours)


Materials: Paper, scissors, markers, leaves, twigs, flowers, paper plates (or other vessels to hold foraged items), phone or camera (to take pictures of the works since these pieces don’t get saved, they get photographed and composted.

Draw vessels with markers (vases, planters etc.) and use foraged materials to “fill” vessels.


Create portraits using only the leaves, twigs and flowers.

Have students write something (a word, quote or phrase) and use the foraged pieces to embellish the “sentiment art.”

Objective: Empower students with the idea that anything can be material to create art and that building a community around art is a great way to proliferate your work and message.


Class 4.0


Studio Session (1  hour). 

Free paint/draw collage session. Each student has 45 minutes to geek out and use what they’ve learned to make whatever they want.

Discussion/lecture: Introduction to curation and pricing (1 hour)

For the last class we will go through all of the art pieces and pick the strongest group of pieces to be framed and displayed for the art show. Together we will choose pieces, frames and discuss the show layout.

Pricing: Discuss prices for art and why/how to price art. Why is some art so much more expensive than other art? What makes some art “worth more” than other art? How can we elevate our works to ask as much as possible for our pieces?

Objective: Create the strongest group of art for the show and think about the way framing, curation and art placement (context) can affect the way that art is seen and sold. 

Studio Session (30 Minutes)

Each student will create a poster for art show promotion and pick one piece to create art prints from to be sold at the show. Every student must present their work to the class and share why they picked the pieces they did.

This post has been sponsored by State Farm®  – Here to help life go right. Turn caring into doing and find volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood at NeighborhoodofGood.com

Justina Blakeney Justina Blakeney

Designer, artist, stylist & mama. Founder and CCO at The Jungalow. Crazy for color, pattern and plants!

4 responses to “Neighborhood of Good®: Lesson Plans!”

  1. Michelle says:

    So proud of you and this partnership!! I wish more people who had a platform would involve themselves in projects like this.

  2. Jane Zamost says:

    Fabulous blog. I found you by way of the book, “In The Company of Women,” given to me by my eldest daughter and her boyfriend and just loved it. Thanks for sharing your story. I am committed to making my art business grow and will continue to heed advice from entrepreneurs, like you, who inspire and spread kindness. Many thanks, Jane

  3. Heidi says:

    LOVE, love, love this!!!
    As a trained Art Teacher who ended up working with youth after teaching for years, this is fantastic!!!
    Our neighbor is involved with an organization that works with at risk young women here in Perth, Western Australia (The Esther Foundation)and I am inspired to find some energy to do something with them.
    Justina, you are making such a difference! This kind of intervention and investment in young people pays it forward many times over; especially when they have children and feel more connected and capable.
    Also, these young people have some real talent!!! Their contour portrait drawings are especially interesting.
    Hugz, Heidi x

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